Harry Potter and the Sacred Text
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text is a podcast-based class for students ages 11-14. The aim of this class is two-fold: 1) to discuss the “Big Questions” of life such as good vs. evil, friendship, loyalty, loneliness and isolation, sacrifice, bullying, generosity, or the nature of forgiveness, and 2) to introduce middle-schoolers to the type of close reading they will have to do in high school and college.
Each week students will be asked to read (or re-read!) one or two chapters of the first Harry Potter book and to listen to one or two episodes of the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. The podcast is hosted by two divinity scholars who approach the Harry Potter books the same way they have been trained to read sacred texts such as the Bible: by paying close attention to the text itself (whether or not they agree with it), and then by discussing its major themes and deeper messages together in a group.
Despite the word “sacred” in the title, this is not a religion class! What it shares in common with religion classes, however, is a deep engagement with a particular book and a commitment to discussing philosophical questions that transcend time and place — questions we consider universal to the human experience. Too often, high school students are asked to do this for the first time using books that are difficult and unfamiliar. In this class, middle-schoolers will become comfortable with higher-level textual analysis using a beloved book from elementary school. This will help them develop a more sophisticated approach to literature that they can use later when they encounter more complex texts.
NOTE: Students must turn 11 by September, 2019, to enroll in this class. Although many younger students are avid Harry Potter fans, our focus is not on the plot of the books, but rather on reading and discussion strategies that will be useful in high school. To that end, they should approach this as a literature and philosophy class, not as a book club or fan group.
Fridays 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Start Date: September 20, 2019
End Date: December 13, 2019
No Class: November 29, 2019
Suggested age range: 11-14
Outside work: 1-2 chapters of the first Harry Potter book and 1-2 podcasts each week. Because the focus is on “close reading,” students should commit to re-reading the book even if they’ve read it before.
Non-refundable registration fee of $10. Payment plans available. Fees waived for families with financial need. (Waivers and payment plan information.)